Australian radio correspondent Macdonald's rollicking memoir recounts the two years she spent in India when her boyfriend, Jonathan, a TV news correspondent, was assigned to New Delhi. Leaving behind her own budding career, she spends her sabbatical traveling around the country, sampling India's "spiritual smorgasbord": attending a silent retreat for Vipassana meditation, seeking out a Sikh Ayurvedic "miracle healer," bathing in the Ganges with Hindus, studying Buddhism in Dharamsala, dabbling in Judaism with Israeli tourists, dipping into Parsi practices in Mumbai, visiting an ashram in Kerala, attending a Christian festival in Velangani and singing with Sufis. Paralleling Macdonald's spiritual journey is her evolution as a writer; she trades her sometimes glib remarks ("I've always thought it hilarious that Indian people chose the most boring, domesticated, compliant and stupidest animal on earth to adore") and 1980s song title references (e.g., "Karma Chameleon") for a more sensitive tone and a sober understanding that neither mocks nor romanticizes Indian culture and the Western visitors who embrace it. The book ends on a serious note, when September 11 shakes Macdonald's faith and Jonathan, now her husband, is sent to cover the war in Afghanistan. Macdonald is less compelling when writing about herself, her career and her relationship than when she is describing spiritual centers, New Delhi nightclubs and Bollywood cinema. Still, she brings a reporter's curiosity, interviewing skills and eye for detail to everything she encounters, and winningly captures "[t]he drama, the dharma, the innocent exuberance of the festivals, the intensity of the living, the piety in playfulness and the embrace of living day by day..--he drama, the dharma, the innocent exuberance of the festivals, the intensity of the living, the piety in playfulness and the embrace of living day by day."
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Australian MacDonald didn't fall in love with India her first time there, at age 21. So when her boyfriend, Jonathan, a reporter for ABC, is sent there for work, she reluctantly follows after a year of separation. At first, life in India is as bad as she remembered it--overcrowded, smoggy, disturbing. A serious bout of pneumonia puts her in an Indian hospital, but as she recovers, she begins to make friends in India and to understand the culture. She finds herself attending lavish Indian weddings and trying to comfort her friend Padma, whose mother commits suicide after Padma marries without her permission. MacDonald makes an effort to understand the many diverse religions of the area, including taking a 10-day sojourn in a Buddhist temple and discussing religion with Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and even a group of visiting Israelis. With Jonathan, she takes a trip to war-torn Kashmir, an area that is at once achingly beautiful and devastatingly dangerous. A lively, snappy travelogue. Kristine Huntley
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I happened upon this book one day in a Chapters bookstore, attracted by the title and the cover. I have a place in my heart for India and it's people, though I have never been... Read morePublished on April 23 2011 by Ian Murray
Amazing book i picked it up on Amsterdam airport could not put it down till i finished it. Must read for someone planning to visit India.Published on Feb. 15 2006 by Samir Panday
Are you happiest when you have a backpack strapped to your back with a sense of adventure in your heart? Then this book is for you.
Especially if... Read more
The people that rate this book (and tell Sarah to go to hell) seem to be taking someone else's experiences rather personally. Read morePublished on July 16 2004
Sarah obviously sees the world through the Western norms and thus cannot understand what makes India or for that matter other multi-cultures tick. Read morePublished on July 15 2004
Having lived in India for years I approached the book with hightened expectations that I never found. I have yet to find a book that captures the feel of India in words. Read morePublished on July 4 2004 by G. Goodwood
I'm an Indian and I've lived in India for most of my life. I read this book to attempt to understand a foreigner's perception of India. Read morePublished on July 2 2004 by kriti